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Finalists named for judgeship in Carlton County

Three area attorneys are finalists for a seat on the Carlton County bench.

Kevin Cornwell, Terri Port Wright and Rebekka Stumme earned recommendations from the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection.

The 6th Judicial District seat is open due to the pending retirement of Duluth Judge Mark Munger. He will be replaced at the St. Louis County Courthouse by Judge Leslie Beiers, who will transfer from Carlton County.

Munger's retirement date isn't until Jan. 11, so the appointment of his successor will lie with Gov.-elect Tim Walz, who takes office Jan. 7.

The commission, which serves outgoing Gov. Mark Dayton, is required to review applicants for open judicial seats. While governors are not bound by the commision, they typically abide by its recommendations.

Cornwell, 51, is a solo practitioner and part-time public defender in Duluth, representing clients in both criminal and family law cases. He previously worked at the Duluth firm of Stauber and Lien, served as an adjunct professor at the College of St. Scholastica and was a judicial law clerk to former Duluth Judge Robert Campbell.

Outside the courtroom, Cornwell has served as a host parent for the AFS Intercultural Program, a board member for the Duluth Girls Hockey Association, a youth sports coach and a mock trial coach.

Port Wright, 60, is a solo practitioner in Cloquet, where she handles family law, criminal defense, child protection and probate cases. She was previously a public defender, executive director of the North Shore organization now known as Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center and vice president of environmental health and safety for Continental Airlines.

Port Wright is a member of the Carlton County Children's Justice Initiative Committee, a parent attorney representative on the St. Louis County Indian Child Welfare Act Collaborative Committee and a member of Minnesota Women Lawyers.

Stumme, 45, is an assistant St. Louis County attorney in Duluth, serving as an adult felony prosecutor. She previously served as a public defender, a civil litigation attorney at Duluth firm Downs, Reyelts and Bateman, and was a judicial law clerk to Munger.

Stumme is president of the First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center Board and chair of the education committee at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Duluth.

Only two judges are chambered at the Carlton County Courthouse. Beiers has served there since her appointment in 2014. Judge Robert Macaulay has served since 1995.

The 6th Judicial District includes six courthouses in St. Louis, Carlton, Cook and Lake counties. Judges must live within the district and appear on the ballot in all four counties.